The presidential committee pushing for a negotiated deal with the violent sect, Boko Haram, has downplayed Monday’s bombing that killed scores in Kano, promising new “data and fact” that will show gains it achieved with the extremists, as the panel’s work faces increasing doubt.
The Minister of Special Duties, Kabiru Turaki, who heads the Presidential Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges, said the blast in Sabon Gari area of Kano State which killed at least 20 people, was carried out by “those who do not wish the country well”, and did nothing to detract from the gains made by the committee.
Mr. Turaki said his panel had spent time making contacts, building confidence and earning the trust of some of the key figures of the group, and getting to engage in critical discussions which will not only lead to full ceasefire but also to disarmament.
The renewed spate of killings, allegedly by Boko Haram, has cast a pall on the self-claimed successes of the committee in achieving a peaceful settlement that will bring to an end years of deadly violence by Boko Haram.
Mr. Turaki told journalists at the presidential villa that there was no doubt the president was satisfied with the progress made by the committee. He denied the meeting was at the instance of the Monday attack.
“I didn’t ask to see Mr. President. The President has not refused to see me. I came here to collect a copy of letter of extension of the mandate of the committee and it is here in my hand; this is what I have come to collect. I didn’t go to see the President; I have no cause to see the President. The President has not refused to see me,” he said.
Mr. Turaki said soon, data and facts, showing how much the committee’s efforts had paid off, will be made available to Nigerians.
On the denial of ceasefire agreement by the sect, Mr. Turaki said the committee had gone beyond that as the issue had been sorted out.
President Jonathan allowed the committee an extra two months extension to complete its assignment of getting the sect to accept dialogue and end the violence.
The committee, which was inaugurated on April 24, was initially expected to submit its report on the July 24. But, the committee is yet to meet with the head of the Islamist sect, Abubakar Shekau, who is wanted by the Nigeria and U.S. governments.